Grants have been awarded to 22 out-of-the-box solutions in total, all of which will work with farmers to improve the quality of water flowing to the Great Barrier Reef, and support the creation of enduring impact at an unprecedented scale.
Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said poorer water quality caused by land-based runoff is a significant threat to the health of Australia’s irreplaceable ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef.
“Sediment and pollutants running into the Reef’s waters smother coral and seagrass, are toxic to marine life and contribute to crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks, and we must continue to work together and do better,” Ms Marsden said.
“Queensland’s farmers and agricultural community are already undertaking a high calibre of work to safeguard the future of the Reef.
“We’re proud to pioneer technologies, systems and financing options that will further support the future of the agricultural industry and of our Reef as well as help to reach the targets set out by the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.
“These innovations will not only improve the quality of the Reef’s waters and conditions for the precious corals, they will also help to save our endangered turtles and dugongs that feed on the seagrass beds that need clean water to thrive.”
Both of our projects are funded under the ‘technology transformation’ theme, which means they focus on applying new approaches to improving water quality that address the most critical needs and limitations in terms of lowering costs and/or improving the efficacy of interventions.
Trialling the use of drones in river and wetland restoration
We will trial the use of drones in Reef catchments for monitoring, mapping, eradicating weeds and spreading seeds on a large scale, looking for ways to both reduce costs of restoration in hard-to-reach or dangerous areas (for example, due to threats such as crocodiles!) and increase the scale of impact for the Reef. Restoring riparian zones and wetlands is key to supporting a healthy Reef system, since they filter excess sediment and nutrients from water before it reaches the sea.
Understanding nutrient export from remediated gully systems
Our large-scale gully remediation projects cut sediment run-off to the Great Barrier Reef by 97% – but whether fixing gullies can also stop large amounts of nutrient run-off isn’t clear. We will investigate whether remediating eroding gullies also cuts nutrient pollution. If so, it would enable the greatest cuts to Reef pollution from any investment… and that means a huge win for supporting a healthy Reef.